The Internet of Things could play a massive role in the future of healthcare: here’s how

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Doctor patient

Leading on from my previous article around why the understanding Internet of Things (IoT) is vital do digital success, one of the biggest and fastest industries to adopt the IoT will be healthcare.

The way in which wearables can be foreseen to significantly impact healthcare is by designing products for individual use where they become customizable and are all about tracking your own data, and using tech as your health advocate.

Tracking medicine
Taking a pill on a day-to-day basis can become quite mundane, and chances are there will be times when you forget. That could all change though, thanks to Proteus Digital Health, which has designed a swallowable sensor that can be embedded into pills and ingested in order to monitor and track the effectiveness of our medicine. Oh, it can also help those of us who are a bit forgetful when it comes to taking our meds at the right time.

Once the chip reaches the stomach, it reacts with stomach fluid to send out a time-stamped indentification signal. People will need to wear a special patch which then picks up that signal and wirelessly transmits it to a smartphone application. The signal also relays other information, such as heart rate, body position and activity level.

With patient consent, the data can be monitored by doctors and other caregivers to make sure the medication has been properly taken. Pretty impressive.

It doesn’t stop there
Other developments that the IoT will bring to healthcare are manifesting themselves in things like Thimble, which is essentially based on the premise of treating pain the same way one treats a cut. Thimble is based on using Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) that’s designed to provide portable pain relief. TENS uses low voltage electrical stimulation to alleviate certain types of pain. The treatment is typically performed via a small machine, but a wearable application of the technology is currently under development.

LUMOback will meanwhile help correct your posture and track your movement. It delivers real-time feedback, allowing the user to make small, incremental changes that can have a significant impact on their health. For example, if you slouch with your lower back, lean forward, lean backwards, or shift your weight to one side, LUMOback will let you know via a gentle vibration so you can correct your stance.

3D printing and augmented reality will start to play in the same arena. Tanya Vlach is the first to delve into this where after an accident she used Kickstarter an appeal to engineers to help her build a new eye.

But what does this mean for business?
The growth of technology and innovation in this space, as well in many other industries, is set to change the way we do business.

The digital maturity model I spoke about previously and moving through different milestones is how you can help you company prepare itself for what can only be described as ground breaking use of digital. The IoT, along with mobile, data and social are going to revolutionize the way we do business, how we communicate and how we market our products.

Brands playing in the fitness, healthcare and insurance space need to be looking for opportunities in the world of wearable tech, and the IoT, and thinking about how these advances could impact their business. If you’re smart, and start thinking along these lines, the marketing and partnership opportunities are endless.

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